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Gulfshore Business Daily: April 20

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Lead Photo: United Way Gifts-in-Kind program has taken in and redistributed more than $12 million worth of donated goods to the community. Details below.

 

LEE HEALTH COVID-19 VACCINE APPOINTMENTS NOW OPEN TO GENERAL PUBLIC

As of Monday, anyone 18 and over can sign up online to receive a COVID-19 vaccination at Lee Health by clicking here. You do not need to be a Lee Health patient to get the vaccine. All vaccines will be administered at Gulf Coast Medical Center. After signing up, you will be notified when the vaccine is available to you and given a choice of time slots of available appointments. If Lee Health has multiple brands of COVID-19 vaccines in stock, you will be able to select which vaccine you receive. Currently, Lee Health is offering the Moderna vaccine. All self-scheduling appointments must be made online. Lee Health asks you not to call its hospitals or physician offices to inquire about vaccine appointments as it overwhelms the phone system and keeps others from reaching the health system for their care. Lee Health has been vaccinating its employees and medically vulnerable patients since December. This is the first time the health system has offered it to the general public. Per Florida guidelines, vaccine appointments are available for Florida residents only. A mask is required to enter any Lee Health facility. For more information on COVID-19 vaccines, click here.

 

 

Video courtesy of WINK News

FLORIDA HOUSE TO TAKE UP POLICE REFORM BILL

A bipartisan police reform bill is being debated in the Florida House. The measure addresses controversial police tactics such as chokeholds and whether to ban them. The proposal also would require officers to intervene and stop another officer from using excessive force. The bill – HB 7051 – would add use-of-force training for officers. Another aspect of the bill requires more transparency in the job application process. Applicants will have to be more forthcoming on whether they’ve ever been the subject of an investigation, WINK News reports.

 

LOCAL WATER SAMPLINGS FIND COLIFORM BACTERIA, HIGH NITROGEN LEVELS

After Lee County this spring experienced swarms of midge flies, which could be indicators of poor water quality, WINK News hired Sanders Laboratories of Fort Myers to sample and test the fresh and saltwater at Franklin Lock, the Caloosahatchee River near downtown Fort Myers, Billy Creek, Clipper Bay, Punta Rassa and Fort Myers Beach. Results received this month from the March 25 collection date show high total nitrogen levels across the board, while coliform bacteria also was high at the sampling spot in Fort Myers Beach. Dr. Serge Thomas, an associate professor and expert in the ecology of aquatic environments at The Water School at Florida Gulf Coast University, reviewed the results and said that while the high-nutrient sampling is important, a wider data set would provide more information about this complicated matter. Because hundreds of species of midge flies in Florida interact differently with the environment, Thomas said knowing which type of midge fly is infesting Southwest Florida is important for understanding the water issue, WINK News reports.
 
 

Video courtesy of WINK News

FLORIDA SENATE BILL WOULD SCRAP SOUTHWEST-CENTRAL FLORIDA TOLL ROAD

A toll road promised quicker access from Collier to Polk County and was touted as an evacuation route during hurricanes, but many Florida lawmakers now feel the proposed Southwest-Central Florida Connector through nine counties is unnecessary. A Florida Senate proposal to scrap the controversial toll road is speeding ahead and getting fast-tracked to Florida House lawmakers for approval. The bill basically undoes one pushed through the Legislature in 2019. The next step for the bill will be for the Florida House to pass it, and then, the governor would need to sign off on it, WINK News reports.

 

LEE COUNTY SCHOOLS IN DESPERATE NEED OF NEW TEACHERS

Lee County Schools, the ninth-largest school district in Florida, is in desperate need of teachers as it continues to grow. With more than 95,000 students, the demand for teachers is high. The district is hoping to fill positions during a virtual hiring event next week. The goal for each new school year is to start off with a certified teacher in each classroom. More teachers may be hired this year because of the pandemic. The pre-scheduled virtual interviews will be held daily April 26-30. Qualified candidates are invited to apply online by Monday, WINK News reports.

 

 

Video courtesy of WINK News

LEE COUNTY SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT TO RETIRE THIS YEAR

Lee County Superintendent Greg Adkins has decided to retire at the end of his contract later this year. Adkins’ plan is to retire at the end of June, which is when his employment contract is up. He sent an email announcing his plans to all district employees and shared his plan to retire during a public address Friday at the Lee County Public Education Center. Adkins has been with the school district for 33 years and has served as superintendent for five years. In his email, he said he hopes to be able to help the next superintendent before his retirement, WINK News reports.

 

 

Video courtesy of WINK News

SCAM ALERT: BEWARE OF JOBS THAT SOUND TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE

With more people getting vaccinated and traveling again, jobs are opening up around Southwest Florida. Unfortunately, crooks are cashing in on those looking to get hired again, and scammers are trying to find a way to take advantage of people. Job seekers need to be on the lookout for the job opportunity that sounds just a little too good and asks for just a little too much personal information. They want you to submit personal and identifiable information with the goal to steal your identity and get to your bank accounts. A couple of tips: The “at-home,” big-money job is probably fake; never pay to get a job; don’t use a check sent to you before you have a job; research potential employers; and be careful posting a complete resume with all your data online, WINK News reports.

 

DAVID LAWRENCE CENTER TO PROVIDE COGNITIVE PROCESSING THERAPY FOR VETS

David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health (DLC) will expand access to evidence-based trauma therapy for veterans through a partnership with Home Base SWFL. Through the collaboration, DLC will provide cognitive processing therapy (CPT) to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. The partnership is made possible through a grant provided by the Community Foundation of Collier County. Home Base SWFL is a local nonprofit founded by the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital dedicated to supporting veterans, service members and military families impacted by the invisible wounds. Three DLC outpatient clinicians have completed the training program, which will now be available in Naples, Immokalee and through Crossroads, DLC’s adult addiction recovery services. As veterans are enrolled in the new therapy, Home Base will provide the trained therapists 26 weeks of ongoing consultation, after which each therapist will be certified.

 

KNIGHT BARRY TITLE ACQUIRES FORT MYERS OPERATION

Knight Barry Title has acquired another Florida title company and now has two locations in Lee County. The Wisconsin-based company’s latest growth in the Sunshine State comes after acquiring MLS Title in Fort Myers from owner Susan Malach. Knight Barry Title’s Sanibel office opened in December 2019 and has become the company’s busiest location in the state. In total, Knight Barry Title has 12 offices spread across Florida. MLS Title opened in 2004. Malach started as an employee the next year and became the owner in 2007. Malach will be staying on for a transition period before retiring. Knight Barry Title is led by Craig Haskins, chief operating officer, and Jeff Green, chief executive officer. The company recently launched a separate website aimed at both potential new hires and possible future acquisition partners.

 

FIFTH AVENUE SOUTH WELCOMES AVENUE HOME DESIGN & BUILD

The Fifth Avenue South Business Improvement District announced the opening of Avenue Home Design & Build. Located at 300 Fifth St. S., steps off Fifth Avenue South, Avenue Home Design is a general contracting and design-build firm offering a complete range of residential construction services from home remodeling to building a new home from the ground up. The company’s co-owners and founders, Daniel and Marta Swierczek, have several years of professional experience.

 

2019 Edison Awards gala

EDISON AWARDS COMES TO FORT MYERS THIS WEEK

For the first time in its 34-year history, the Edison Awards Gala will take place in the winter home of its namesake, Thomas Alva Edison. The three-day Edison Awards agenda features a range of executive-level networking opportunities, panel discussions, presentations, and field trips with topics ranging from solar energy to space. The event will kick off this Wednesday, with an opening cocktail reception at Edison and Ford Winter Estates, and culminate at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday with the Edison Awards Gala at the Caloosa Sound Convention Center in downtown Fort Myers. For a full event schedule, click here.

 

FORUM ON PERSONAL CONDO INSURANCE MARKET SET FOR THURSDAY

The Gulf Shore Association of Condominiums (GSAC) will host its second in a series of community forums designed to inform and educate Naples residents about key issues affecting the area. The second forum, “Personal Condo Insurance Market in Turmoil: Understanding Premium Increases and Coverage,” will be held from 8:30-10:30 a.m. this Thursday on Zoom. To educate Naples residents about issues impacting their premiums, the GSAC board of directors has invited expert panelists to discuss the escalating rates, coverage options and challenges moving forward. Representatives from Lane Insurance, Galt Insurance, and East and Greenwell Insurance will help condominium owners understand their options before it is time to renew. The virtual forum is free and open to the public, with registration available online.

 

 

Video courtesy of WINK News

CAPE CORAL CREATES TEMPORARY TRASH DROP-OFF SITES

The city of Cape Coral is teaming up with Waste Pro to offer central drop-off locations to avoid trash piling up in neighborhoods. Residents can bring garbage to Cultural Park Theatre between the hours of 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday. The city did not specify how long the trash drop-off site will be used, but the hope is to give Waste Pro the opportunity to catch up on its routes, WINK News reports.

 

Steven Gendreau

HENDERSON FRANKLIN HIRES GENDREAU

Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt P.A. has hired Steven Gendreau to the firm as an associate in the tort and insurance litigation department. He will handle insurance defense claims involving premises liability, automobile and personal injury matters. Gendreau was a member of Henderson Franklin’s 2020 summer associate program. He received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of South Florida and his Juris Doctor from Stetson University College of Law. While in law school, Gendreau served as class representative for the Student Bar Association. He also served as a judicial extern in the Sixth Judicial Circuit and while clerking for a St. Petersburg law firm focused on plaintiff personal injury claims. Gendreau is a Southwest Florida native and grew up in Port Charlotte. 

 

CHARITABLE NOTES

United Way program redistributes $5.5 million worth of donated goods to community

The United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee Gifts-in-Kind program in 2020 saw more than $5.5 million worth of goods come into its warehouse. More than 1.2 million items were distributed back to the community to help United Way’s local agencies and programs. United Way has been able to donate cars to those supporting their family and severely in need, furnish entire households after major hurricanes or homelessness, donate tens of thousands of school supplies to local schools and teachers, and provide office furniture to agencies after major flooding. That’s in addition to donating holiday meals to those in need, Christmas toys to foster families, and clean clothing to students suffering without. To date, the United Way Gifts-in-Kind program has distributed 1,919,535 items that are valued at $12,359,317. These items have gone to the supporting Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee communities. The program does not resell any donated goods and ensures that each item goes to those that need it most.

 

Arline Martinez, biochemistry major at Florida SouthWestern State College and student from The Immokalee Foundation 

BMO Wealth Management makes $10,000 scholarship program donation

BMO Wealth Management has made a $10,000 donation to The Immokalee Foundation’s scholarship program that helps ensure postsecondary educational success for foundation students. A community partner since 2016, BMO Wealth Management’s contributions have helped The Immokalee Foundation guide students beyond high school graduation with support for postsecondary programs – including scholarship opportunities for advanced certifications and college degrees that may lead to careers in high-growth Southwest Florida employment sectors. BMO Wealth Management’s scholarship donation helps 221 students from The Immokalee Foundation who are currently continuing career preparation with postsecondary studies. 

 

Committee announced for ‘Shine: A Benefit for Hope Hospice’

As returning hosts of the second annual Shine benefit for Hope Hospice, State Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka and Lizbeth Benacquisto have announced the committee for the event held at 5 p.m. on Oct. 15 at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers. Rebekah MacFarlane Barney, Noelle Branning, Rachel Busch, Lillian Canfield, Zannon Garza, Laurie Moore, Amy Thibaut and Vanessa Tyler will serve as the committee members for the outdoor event, which features riverside cocktails, dining, entertainment and a live auction to support Hope’s mission of providing comforting care to everyone living with serious illness. To request an invitation to the event or learn about sponsorship opportunities, click here or call 239-985-7758.

 

Champions 4 Children to host fundraiser to benefit area kids

Champions 4 Children will be hosting a mini-event this Thursday through Saturday at Sundial Resort on Sanibel Island to raise money for Blessings in a Backpack of Southwest Florida, Valerie’s House and Cure Search. Former professional athletes include Adam Piatt, Marco Rivera, John Cangelosi, Scott Kehoe, Kenny Bontz, Rogers Alexander, Tom Toth, and Chris and Leith Conlin. There will be a welcome party, singer/songwriter beach concert and golf outing over the course of the three-day event.

 

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